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The creation and re-creation of national armies in post-Soviet and post-communist countries

Chercheur(s) associé(s) Elisabeth Kozlowski
Photo: "I choose contract service", Voenkomat Russia, 2013

Issue 23 Editors: Masha Cerovic, Paul Lenormand, Ben McVicker, Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, 15 post-Soviet Armies have emerged, sometimes built from scratch. During this time, armies of post-communist countries1 have undergone several major transformations. For this future issue, we have chosen to study the creation and evolution of these armies primarily through the lens of social and cultural history, and the political aspects of their transition since 1991.

The process of creating post-Soviet and post-communist armies can be analyzed in different perspectives and at different levels. The issue will focus on the experience of post-Soviet states and post-communist countries with an in-depth examination of the kinds of individuals who put on the uniform, combining the approaches of sociologists, historians, political scientists, ethnologists and anthropologists from a comparative perspective.

 We also welcome long-term historical perspectives that reflect upon the legacies of military reforms in Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries. A previous issue of PIPSS that focused on the integration of non-Russian servicemen in the Imperial, Soviet and Russian Army from the 19th century onward, began to address this topic and it remains largely unexplored.

Academic articles as well as interviews of key participants in or witnesses to military reform are welcome. We are also open to comparative approaches of several national armies.
The following aspects could be of particular interest, the list being far from exhaustive:

1 - The historical evolution of national armies

  • Culturally situated perceptions of threat and security: how perceived threats to security, military cooperation with foreign countries, and membership in the EU, NATO or CIS shaped national armies.

  • The transformation of international military socializations within a changed geopolitical environment.

  • The impact of contemporary military conflicts on military reform: civil wars, occupations, intervention in foreign conflicts, or reactions to conflicts taking place in neighboring countries.

2 - Creating officer corps and managing national armies: the practical process

  • New loyalty and allegiances: affirmations, shifts of and calls upon the loyalty and allegiances of Soviet officers in an uncertain environment.

  • The management of nationalities: the hierarchy of Slavic officers and national officers in post-Soviet armies; the weight of ethnolinguistic factors and qualification for citizenship in the construction of national armies; minorities in post-Soviet & post-communist armies.

  • The demographic and quantitative evolution of the officer corps, conscripts, and contract personnel; the sociological profile of military personnel.

  • The professional background of national elites: professional trajectories of officers from disbanded state federations (Soviet, Czechoslovak, Yugoslav) and their new national career paths.

  • Military seniority facing change: opposition to reform and nostalgia for the Soviet Union or communism.

  • The veterans’ legacy: the roles played by veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War, the Chechen Wars, and wars in Yugoslavia in military reform.

  • Transforming practices of care: the reorganization of medical, mental health, and spiritual services in the armed forces.

  • Gender issues: women in the military forces; shifting norms of masculinity; images and management of soldiers’ sexuality, from sexual violence to (non-) integration of LGBT service members.

3 - The relationship between the post-Soviet/communist armies and the states

  • Renegotiation of the relations between military and civilian authorities.

  • Redefinition of authority: which skills and competences (military, field experience, linguistic skills, political affiliations...) are devalued, which are promoted.

  • Hierarchies and positions: economic and symbolic status of officers and other professional soldiers (wages, privileges, material support, symbolic rewards e.g. medals and awards).

  • Funding the militaries: state funding of the army and the privatization of social support via semi-public foundations; private military companies or contractors.

  • Memories and rituals: how does the military participate in the “memory wars” surrounding past military conflicts? How are military traditions invented? What are the roles of various veterans in the creation or transmission of military rituals? How have Soviet soldiers been commemorated and memorialized since 1991?

  • Spaces: how were former military spaces - military barracks, training grounds, military academies, militarized border zones - abandoned, repurposed, reappropriated? How were new ones created?

4 - The relationship between post-Soviet/communist armies and society

  • Public opinion toward conscription and professional armies: the impacts of dedovshchina/hazing; resistance to pre-draft training and compulsory military service; representations and symbolic position of officers and other professional soldiers.

  • Veterans’ participation in political affairs.

  • The impacts of social media on military operations in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans, on post-communist participation in international coalitions (Afghanistan, Iraq).

  • The emergence of grassroots movements, non-government organizations, and veterans’ unions; international organizations fostering alternative solidarities among soldiers and their families.

  • The fate of army pensioners on foreign territory: social-welfare benefits and symbolical status as veterans in post-Soviet and post-communist states.

The deadline for abstracts of no more than 250 words is 1 July 2021. Abstracts should include the topic covered, argument, data sources and conclusions. Authors will be notified within approximately a month of the abstract submission deadline as to the status of their contributions. Submit abstracts to Elisabeth.Kozlowski@ehess.fr.

Selected submitters will be asked to provide a first draft of their paper by the end of February 2022.

Guidelines for submission

The journal publishes articles in three languages (French, English and Russian with a 100-word abstract in English), as a result of which most authors will be able to write in their native language. But we would like to draw your attention to the fact that articles in English will reach a much broader audience.

The articles (30 000 to 50 000 characters) submitted to pipss.org for publication should be original contributions and should not be under consideration for any other publication. Each article will be submitted to double-anonymous peer review; final decisions on publication will be made by the Editorial Board. For details about the guidelines for article submission please check http://pipss.revues.org/169
We also welcome shorter research notes (15 000 signs), interviews as well as presentation of unpublished documents.

Book review proposals are also welcome.

Book Reviews

Publishers interested in publicizing their editions, please send review copies to: Elisabeth Kozlowski, CERSIPS c/° CERCEC-EHESS, #B305, 54 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris, France.